Sustainable Living

How to Make Sustainable Lanterns from Upcycled Materials

Last month, my friend and I attended a local lantern festival called the Still Moon Arts Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival. In the lead up to the event we were inspired to create our own lanterns to take with us. I wanted a more sustainable lantern project, so looked around my house for items I could upcycle into a lantern. I was really happy with how they turned out, so wanted to share how to make my sustainable lanterns from upcycled materials. An added bonus is these sustainable lanterns are really easy to make!

Sustainable lanterns

How to Make your DIY Sustainable Lanterns

It may look like a number of steps, but they are all basic, easy steps that are natural to follow. If you’re missing any of the supplies from your home, try sourcing them from friends, a local Buy Nothing Group, or second hand stores.

Supplies Needed for your Sustainable Lanterns

  • Newspaper (or other surface protector)
  • Glass jar
  • Margarine lid/hard plastic for a mini work surface
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper (pre-loved, of course)
  • Modge Podge
  • Paint brush
  • Tea lights

Step 1: Prep your jar

Rescue any of your old jars destined for recycling to give it a fancy new life! Soak and remove the label and give the jar a clean. If you have any label adhesive left on the jar, it is up to you if you want to remove it. As we are applying more glue to the jar, I chose not to worry too much about it.

Sustainable lantern making supplies

Step 2: Lay out supplies and protect your work surface

I used newspaper to cover my table as I always like to protect my work surface. Since the bottom of the jars can get tacky from the glue, I also used an old margarine container lid as a mini work surface to set the jar on as we worked. Any harder, plasticky surface could work for this, such as take out containers or a cut up milk carton.

Sustainable lantern making supplies

Step 3: Plan out your design

Using pre-loved tissue paper, plan out the design you would like to have on your lantern. Cut out any pieces you need so they are ready once the glue is laid down. I also suggest laying out a light coloured layer to start which will give full coverage around the glass jar.

Sustainable lantern making process

Step 4: Get sticky

Apply a layer of Modge Podge to your jar and carefully apply your base layer of tissue paper.

Keep in mind that the wet tissue paper can tear easily, so go slowly. The tissue paper can easily slide and be manipulated into place, if needed.

Apply more Modge Podge to the area you will start your design and begin building it, adding the glue to each area you need to lay down your tissue paper design.

Sustainable lantern making process

Step 5: Seal it up

Give your design a chance to set, then apply a layer of Modge Podge to the entire jar to seal everything in. Take as long as you feel is necessary to let it set. I only waited a few minutes between design and sealing.

Sustainable lantern making process

Step 6: Dry it out

Set your lantern aside and let it dry out fully before using it. This will allow the Modge Podge a chance to set and harden, protecting your design.

Sustainable lanterns

Step 7: Light it up

Using whatever type of candle you’re comfortable with (flame/battery operated), carefully light the candle and place inside the jar.

Sustainable lanterns

Step 8: Enjoy!

Whether you’re heading to a lantern festival or not, there are loads of ways to enjoy your lantern.

Ideas for How to Use Your Sustainable Lanterns:

  1. Create a spooky Halloween lantern and use it to decorate for the holiday.
  2. Make a set of lanterns to decorate a patio in the summer.
  3. Take your lantern to a nighttime lantern festival event.
  4. Create a meaningful pattern and give the lantern as a gift.
  5. Create a Christmas design as a family and make a yearly lantern decoration.

Lantern Festivals

If you’re in the Vancouver, BC area, the lantern festival is pretty magical and definitely worth checking out! See Still Moon Arts’ website for details on their events and any upcoming lantern festivals:

Here are some of the photos from the event we attended:

Cork Yoga Mat

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